Gambar halaman

scholar's attainments, put this question to him: —“At what time did the heathen oracles cease?" The boy, not in the least daunted, answered, "At the dissolution of religious houses."

243. War.

He laughed much at Lord Kaimes' opinion that war was a good thing occasionally, as so much valour and virtue were exhibited in it. "A fire," says Johnson, "might as well be thought a good thing; there is the bravery and address of the firemen in extinguishing it; there is much humanity exerted in saving the lives and properties of the poor sufferers; yet," says he, "after all this, who can say a fire is a good thing?"

244. Preachers.

Johnson seemed to think it a duty to accept in good part the endeavours of all public instructors, however meanly qualified for the office, and ever to forbear exercising his critical talents on the effusions of men inferior in learning and abilities to himself. Probably he, on such occasions, recollected the quaint distich of Herbert :

"The worst have something good; where all want sense,
God takes the text, and preacheth patience."

245. Music.

Of music he said, "It is the only sensual pleasure without vice."

246. Tea.

Speaking one day of tea, he said,

"What a delightful beverage must that be that pleases all palates at a time when they can take nothing else at breakfast!"

247. Richard Baxter.

Of Baxter he entertained a very high opinion, and often spoke of him to me as a man of great parts, profound learning, and exemplary piety. He said of the office for the communion, drawn up by him and produced at the

Savoy conference, that it was one of the first compositions of the ritual kind he had ever seen.'

248. Voltaire's Charles XII.

"The Life of Charles the Twelfth," by Voltaire, he said was one of the finest pieces of history ever written.

249. Jeremy Taylor.

At times when he was most distressed, I recommended to him the perusal of Bishop Taylor's "Rules and Exercises of Holy Living and Dying," and also his "Ductor Dubitantium." Of the former, though he placed the author at the head of all the divines that have succeeded the fathers, he said, that on the reading thereof, he had found little more than he had brought himself; and, at the mention of the latter, he seemed to shrink.

250. Shenstone.

To some lady who was praising Shenstone's poems very much, and who had an Italian greyhound lying by the fire, he said, "Shenstone holds amongst poets the same rank your dog holds amongst dogs : he has not the sagacity of the hound, the docility of the spaniel, nor the courage of the bull-dog, yet he is still a pretty fellow."

251. Plague in London

Nathaniel Hodges.

With all that asperity of manners with which he has been charged, and which kept at a distance many who, to my knowledge, would have been glad of an intimacy with him he possessed the affections of pity and compassion in a most eminent degree. In a mixed company, of which I was one, the conversation turned on the pestilence which raged in London in the year 1665, and gave occasion to Johnson to speak of Dr. Nathaniel Hodges, who, in the height of that calamity, continued in the city, and was almost the only one of his profession that had the courage to oppose the endeavours of his art to the spreading of the contagion. It was the hard fate of this person, a short

1 It is printed at the end of the first volume of Dr. Calamy's Abridgment of Baxter's History of his Life and Times.

time after, to die a prisoner for debt in Ludgate. Johnson related this circumstance to us, with the tears ready to start from his eyes, and with great energy said, "Such a man would not have been suffered to perish in these times."

252. Jortin.

He was much pleased with Dr Jortin's Sermons, the language of which he thought very elegant; but thought his "Life of Erasmus " a dull book.

253. Blackmore.

To a gentleman who expressed himself in disrespectful terms of Blackmore, one of whose poetic bulls he happened just then to recollect, Dr. Johnson answered, "I hope, Sir, a blunder, after you have heard what I shall relate, will not be reckoned decisive againt a poet's reputation. When I was a young man, I translated Addison's Latin poem on the Battle of the Pygmies and the Cranes, and must plead guilty to the following couplet :

"Down from the guardian boughs the nests they flung,
And kill'd the yet unanimated young

And yet I trust I am no blockhead. I afterwards changed the word kill'd into crush'd."

254. Watts's " Improvement of the Mind." Watts's " Improvement of the Mind" was a very favourite book with him he used to recommend it, also did "Le Dictionnaire Portatif" of Abbé L'Avocat.

255. Kempis "De Imitatione Christi."

He was, for some time, pleased with Kempis's tract, "De Imitatione Christi;" but at length laid it aside, saying, "that the main design of it was to promote monastic piety, and inculcate ecclesiastical obedience." One sentiment therein he however greatly applauded, and I find it adopted by Bishop Taylor, who gives it in these words: "It is no great matter to live lovingly with goodnatured, with humble, and meek persons; but he that can

do so with the froward, with the wilful, and the ignorant, with the peevish and perverse, he only hath true charity. Always remembering, that our true solid peace, the peace of God, consists rather in compliance with others, than in being complied with; in suffering and forbearing, rather than in contention and victory.'

256. Dr. Hammond.

He was extremely fond of Dr. Hammond's (1) works, and sometimes gave them as a present to young men going into orders: he also bought them for the library at Streatham.

257. Mrs. Macaulay's " History."

Being asked whether he had read Mrs. Macaulay's second volume of the " History of England,"—" No, Sir," says he, "nor her first neither."

258. Churchill.

Being told that Churchill had abused him under the character of Pomposo, in his Ghost, "I always thought,' said he, "he was a shallow fellow, and I think so still."

259. Lord Kaimes.

Johnson thought very well of Lord Kaimes's "Elements of Criticism: " of others of his writings he thought very indifferently,

260. Mandeville.

He thought highly of, and would often commend, Mandeville's "Discourse on Hypochondriac Affections." 261. Cowley.

In his own judgment of the "Lives of the Poets," Johnson gave the preference to that of Cowley, as con

(1) [Henry Hammond, D. D., born in 1605; elected a fellow of MagHe suffered dalen College, Oxford, in 1625; canon of Christchurch 1645. much persecution during the Rebellion, and was, it is said, designed for the bishopric of Worcester at the Restoration; but he died a few days before the king's return. He was a voluminous writer, but his best known work is "A Paraphrase and Annotations on the New Testament," which Dr. Johnson recommended to Mr. Boswell.-C.]


taining a nicer investigation and discrimination of the characteristics of wit, than is elsewhere to be found.

262. Addison's "Cato."

He thought Addison's "Cato" the best model of tragedy we had; yet he used to say, of all things, the most ridiculous would be to see a girl cry at the represent

ation of it.

263. Religious Poetry.

Moses Browne, originally a pen-cutter, and afterwards a writer in the "Gentleman's Magazine," published a series of devout contemplations, called " Sunday Thoughts." Johnson, who often expressed his dislike of religious poetry, and who, for the purpose of religious meditation, seemed to think one day as proper as another, read them with cold approbation, and said, he had a great mind to write and publish "Monday Thoughts."

264. Abyssinian Bruce.

He said that when he first conversed with Mr. Bruce, the Abyssinian traveller, he was very much inclined to believe he had been there; but that he had afterwards altered his opinion.

265. Government.

That Johnson was a Tory, he not only never hesitated to confess, but, by his frequent invectives against the Whigs, was forward to proclaim: yet was he not so besotted in his notions as to abet what is called the patriarchal scheme, as delineated by Sir Robert Filmer and other writers on government; nor, with others of a more sober cast, to acquiesce in the opinion that, because submission to governors is, in general terms, inculcated in the Holy Scriptures, the resistance of tyranny and oppression is, in all cases, unlawful: he seemed rather to adopt the sentiments of Hooker on the

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »